The Chernobyl exclusion zone opened for tourists in 2011 and is still not a very common place to visit. If you are wondering how to book your trip to Chernobyl, what a visit to the exclusion zone looks like and how to get there – this article will give you the answer.
If you are planning on entering (legally) the exclusion zone around Chernobyl and Pripyat then you need a guide. There’s no other way. You have a few check points, cameras and soldiers who can shoot you without a warning if they see you walking on your own. If you’re on the wrong side of the checkpoint, of course.
How much does it cost to go?
You can find day trips from 50 dollars, then if you want a Geiger counter its usually another 10 dollars (you keep it just for the day) and dinner is 5.
The price of a private tour depends on the amount of people. We paid almost 600 dollars for a day trip in our own car. Payments to the company we went with were only accepted in foreign currency – dollars, euros and pounds and could be done via PayPal.
How to choose the company to go with
Well, that’s a good question. We messaged 2 big ones – one said there will be no problem with booking a private tour a few days before and then decided to tell us they are fully booked for the whole month (although when we mentioned we are content creators they found a place within 12h). In the end we decided to go with the second one.
The tour itself was great cause our tour guide really knew what he’s talking about and we did everything we wanted, however the company itself is not very well organised – we had to go to the office to pick up t-shirts and other extras which were in the price of our trip and also we basically paid twice for food within the zone.
We would have still recommend the company due to our tour guide, but he decided that he’s going to leave really soon.
The other important thing you have to know before you book – often there’s not enough tour guides and other ones are working even up to 25 days within the zone monthly. The official safe limit is 12 days. This is, of course, what we were told by our guide and not something we have solid evidence of – although we did see his suggested schedule which confirmed what he was saying.
What do I need to know before going?
You should get an e-mail with the most important information after booking your trip. First of all, you need to remember to put your full names while you are booking – it has to be exactly like in your passport, otherwise you will have problems with entering the zone, middle names and everything. You need to have your passport with you, water, food (in closed packages and that you can eat without touching – i.e chocolate bars), proper boots, shirt with long sleeves and long trousers.
For your own safety you can’t eat, drink or smoke in the open air or sit on the ground (but we saw some people doing it anyway, next to the power plant, congrats!). Touching things within the zone is also forbidden. By ‘things’ we mean anything you can find – mushrooms, kids toys, apples, berries or the walls – try to avoid touching anything at all.
Eating food from the zone or drinking the water is also not advised.
If your shoes get too dirty (‘dirty’ also includes walking on moss) you might have to say ‘bye’ to them and leave them in the zone.
The Chernobyl trip – what does it look like?
Depending on the option you chose you will get a different schedule – the most common day trip starts from 8 in the morning in Kiev and you are allowed to stay in the zone til 7 in the evening. Then you come back.
Generally, you will see Zalissya village, Chernobyl town, Chernobyl power plant from the outside (you can book the inside tour as well, paid extra, but there’s no time to do it on a day trip) the secret soviet Duga radar, memorials, Kapachi village with kindergarten and Pripyat town. Somewhere in between you will have lunch.
Remember that offically you can’t enter any buildings in the zone. If you do – it totally depends on your tour guide and if there is police around. If you are very desperate to visit buildings it’s good to have some extra cash with you.
During the trip you have only 3 toilet stops – before entering, during lunch and when you are leaving.
Yes! before you enter the zone there are two small shops with t-shirts, mugs, postcards etc. Payment is only in cash so it’s good to have some ukrainian currency with you.